Stoke City are one of a number of teams interested in making a move for Liverpool right-back Neco Williams this summer, according to TEAMtalk.
The 20-year-old, who has 10 caps for Wales as an international already, is set to be loaned out by Jurgen Klopp next season to aid his development.
Premier League clubs Burnley and Norwich City are interested – the latter if Max Aarons is sold – whilst Stoke have competition as well from the Championship in Cardiff, Swansea and Barnsley.
Let’s look at two pros and two cons though in Stoke’s case if they manage to win the race for Williams this summer.
PRO: Natural competition for Tommy Smith
Looking at Stoke’s line-ups last season, the responsibility of playing at right-back were shared between Tommy Smith and Nathan Collins.
Smith was used at right-wing-back when manager Michael O’Neill opted to use a three centre-back formation but when Collins ended up being injured for the final few months of the campaign he was in a back four.
Williams is a more attack-minded player and would probably suit that wing-back role a lot more than Smith – they’d probably battle for the starting spot originally but you’d expect the talented youngster to win out.
CON: Still relatively inexperienced
Despite having 10 caps for Wales at the age of just 20, Williams is still a novice when it comes to senior football.
He hasn’t been out on loan yet, instead he’s stuck around Liverpool’s senior squad which probably shows how much Klopp rates him.
Williams made nine starts out of his 14 appearances last season but if he wants to be a regular fixture in the Reds’ squad in years to come, he will have to gain the experience elsewhere if he’s to take that next step.
In fairness he may never usurp Trent Alexander-Arnold from the right-back spot but spending some time in the Championship can only help him.
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PRO: Nathan Collins to revert to a centre-back
One of a few shining jewels in Stoke’s crown, Collins is attracting interest from big clubs, including Manchester United and Arsenal, but it seems to be Burnley that have made the biggest play for the Ireland international so far.
The Clarets had bids rejected for Collins in January and they’re expected to come back in for the 20-year-old this summer, but Stoke may end up hanging firm on the talent and keep him for another season alongside another promising player in Harry Souttar.
Considering Collins covered at right-back for a number of games this season, Williams’ potential arrival is important as if kept around, Collins can revert to the position he plays best – that’s if his head isn’t turned by Premier League interest.
CON: Financial penalties if he doesn’t play
After the club’s latest accounts were published, Stoke fans were shocked to see how much money the club had lost in the 2019/20 season – that was despite parachute payments still coming into the club.
They can’t really afford to be losing money unnecessarily and if they do sign Williams and don’t end up playing him, they’ll end up being punished by Liverpool.
That’s because the Reds insert clauses into loan deals that force the other club into paying penalties should the player not play as often as they expect – it’s a tactic they’ve employed for a number of years.
You’d expect that Williams would start games if he came in at the bet365 Stadium and in that case they’d avoid penalties, but it’s still a big factor when you want to loan a player from Anfield.